Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 15-25

First online:

Habitat correlates of the distribution and biomass of Seychelles' reef fishes

  • Simon JenningsAffiliated withDepartment of Marine Sciences and Coastal Management, The University
  • , David P. BoulléAffiliated withSeychelles Fishing Authority
  • , Nicholas V. C. PoluninAffiliated withDepartment of Marine Sciences and Coastal Management, The University

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Relationships between quantitative measures of habitat type and the biomass of Chaetodon, Scarus and Parupeneus species were investigated across 35 reef sites in the Inner Seychelles Group. Multiple regression was used to determine the proportion of variance in biomass between sites which could be explained by depth, exposure, vertical relief, topographic complexity, live coral cover, coral rubble cover, rock cover, sand cover, underlying carbonate substrate, underlying sand substrate, underlying rock substrate and an index of fishing intensity. A significant proportion of the variance in biomass was explained by habitat variables and the index of fishing intensity for 7 of 12 Chaetodon species (23–52% of variance explained), 3 of 6 Parupeneus species (33–40%), and 10 of 13 Scarus species (14–46%). Within genera, different groups of habitat variables explained the variance in biomass for different species and, of the variables studied, only the proportion of underlying sand substrate failed to explain a significant proportion of the variance in biomass for any species. Quantitative relationships between the biomass of Chaetodon and habitat were often in accordance with those suggested by previous studies of their ecology, life-history and distribution at other Indo-Pacific locations. However, the habitat associations of the Parupeneus and some Scarus species have not been studied at other locations and clearly warrant further investigation. It was concluded that habitat was an important determinant of the distribution of many Seychelles reef fishes, but that the habitat variables examined were rarely the most important determinant of biomass. However, the inclusion of a procedure to collect habitat data provided a useful means by which to reduce the unexplained variance associated with visual census biomass estimates and therefore improves the possibility of elucidating the effects of other factors on the biomass of Seychelles reef fishes.

Key words

Chaetodon Parupeneus Scarus Coral reef Rocky reef Substrate Fishing effects